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Monday, July 16, 2018

Russian intelligence agents accused of hacking Hillary Clinton's campaign

Por Nina

New blow to relations between Russia and the United States. A federal grand jury in the United States on Friday charged 12 members of Russian intelligence for allegedly hacking the campaign team of Hillary Clinton, a Democratic candidate for president in 2016, when Donald Trump won the election. The Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, reported that the special prosecutor investigating Russia's interference in the presidential elections that year, Robert Mueller, requested the indictment to the grand jury. The news came days before Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin next Monday in Helsinki (Finland), and after that last February were already charged 20 citizens - mostly Russians - and three companies.

The special prosecutor of the Russian plot, Robert Mueller on Friday charged 12 officers of the Russian military intelligence agency accused of stealing and disseminating documents from the campaign of the Democrat Hillary Clinton with the aim of "interfering" in the US elections of 2016. They are also accused of stealing information from 500,000 voters, but there is no evidence that their actions influenced the outcome of the elections that Republican Donald Trump won. Trump has been trying for months to disqualify Mueller's investigation, which investigates whether there was coordination between the Republican team and the Russian electoral interference, and if once in the White House the president could commit a crime of obstruction of justice.

Trump, who hardly criticizes Putin, says suffer a "witch hunt", as he repeated again this Friday in the United Kingdom. And it has avoided bluntly acknowledging the conclusion of the US intelligence agencies that Moscow carried out an elaborate strategy - with the dissemination of stolen and propaganda information - to interfere with the 2016 campaign in order to help him win the elections. Russia denies it. "The objective of the conspiracy was to hack computers of US persons and entities involved in the 2016 US presidential election, steal documents from those computers and organize the dissemination of the stolen documents to interfere in the presidential election," it is read in Mueller's imputation writing.

There are 13 accusations of computer crimes, and eight of identity theft and money laundering. The agents of the GRU, the branch of Russian military intelligence, used servers in the US, created two false profiles on the Internet with which they communicated with US citizens, one of them close to the Trump campaign, and disseminated the stolen information. Most of the stolen mails were published by Wikileaks, which is not mentioned by name in the judicial brief, in July and October 2016. However, the Deputy Attorney General of the Department of Justice, Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller in 2017, highlighted a relevant nuance during the presentation of the new accusation: "There is no allegation that a US citizen committed a crime, nor that the electoral results will be affected," he stressed. "There is no claim that there were Americans who knew they were talking to Russian officials," he added. That rules out, for now, the possibility of a clear coordination between Russian and American citizens, as Trump insisted. The White House clung to that reality to defend the innocence of the president, who met the new accusation a few days ago. "The charges do not include allegations of conscious involvement of someone in the campaign and that the alleged hacking affected the outcome of the election. This is consistent with what we have been saying," said spokesperson Lindsay Waters.

However, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer asked Trump to cancel his meeting with Putin on Monday in Helsinki. "These accusations are further proof of what everyone seems to understand except the president: Putin is an adversary who interfered in our elections to help win Trump," he said. In his first year of investigations, Mueller has filed charges against 32 people (25 of them Russian) and three companies, one has been sentenced to, has interrogated much of Trump's environment, has confirmed the Russian electoral meddling, and has achieved that three ex-advisers of the president plead guilty and cooperate with the investigation. In the background, the biggest unknown of his chess game continues to be fought: if Trump will agree to be interrogated. Once his report concludes, if he finds presumed crimes on the part of the president, Mueller could try to impute it or leave in the hands of the Congress any decision on a hypothetical process of impeachment. The new indictment of the special prosecutor allows to know exactly how the Russian military intelligence units operated, which also managed to infiltrate electoral boards of states and organizations that administer elections. Coordinated from the headquarters of the GRU in Russia, the hackers managed in March 2016 to steal around 50,000 emails from John Podesta, the president of the Clinton campaign.

That gave them access to seventy emails from members of the campaign and later opened the door for them to control, as if they were inside, up to 33 computers of the Democratic National Committee. The information that was stolen was sent to servers that were rented in the US and then they created two web pages, with false identities and financed with cryptocurrencies, to distribute it. The US president, questioned on the issue in London, said he would ask his Russian counterpart about the information that point to the fact that it was Putin himself who authorized espionage. However, Trump added ironically: "I do not think I'll get any confessions." Trump will travel to Finland on Sunday, when he concludes his four-day official visit to the United Kingdom, where he has been accompanied by his wife Melania.